Saturday, February 3

As the dot-com shakeout continues, almost everyone is reeling from the shockwave – from MBA’s with sensible business models and venture capital, to indy startups that rely on fierce customer (and employee) loyalty and good ideas to survive. One of the most visible shocks to the weblogging community recently is Evan Williams’ announcement about the troubled state of his company, Pyra. (Opensewer uses Blogger, which is a product of Pyra.) Pyra is one of the little guys – one of the underdogs that we all really wanted to “win.”

There seems to be a great collective sense of anxiety and disappointment that “our world” – the world of the web – hasn’t turned out the way we wanted it to. It was going to be our generation’s thing, and we were going to show all those boomers that you could succeed simply by having great ideas, giving them away for free, being fearless, and not selling out.

All of this is now tainted by the “real” world – the recognition of the (unfortunate) fact that good ideas cannot survive by their brilliance alone. They must sustain themselves economically. So many great concepts fail because their creators weren’t able to properly position them in the market. Perhaps it’s a fault of the paradigm under which most of us are compelled to operate (which includes the “live a creative life OR put food on the table” paradox), perhaps it’s the fault of people who are afraid … perhaps it’s no one’s fault at all. Maybe it’s survival of the fittest, or capitalism at its finest. Whatever.

As hard as things are right now for many people in the industry, we must realize that the dream is not dead. The web is the greatest tool for free expression to come along ever – and that must never change. We, the independent, powerful voices of the web must make sure of that. We must never quit doing what we love just because we’re not making any money doing it.